Dairy Farmers
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Dairy farmers perform a lot of hard work to care for their cattle and sometimes milk their herds twice a day to procure milk for all the rest of us. The large majority of U.S. dairies are family-owned and are active members of their communities. Farm families tend to take pride in maintaining their cattle (the life of their business), their land and their natural resources for the next generation.

The largest American milk cooperative is Dairy Farmers of America, formed on January 1, 1998 when Associated Milk Producers, Inc., Mid-America Dairymen, Inc., Milk Marketing, Inc., and Western Dairymen Cooperative, Inc. gathered to discuss strategies for surviving in a consolidating world. As milk processors and grocers grew larger and more national in scope, the regional structure of cooperatives could not keep up. These four cooperatives realized a shared vision – to unite their talents, leadership, markets and capital into a single, stronger cooperative better able to work for the dairy farmer. Since then, four more cooperatives merged into Dairy Farmers of America – Independent Cooperative Milk Producers Association, Valley of Virginia Milk Producers Association, Black Hills Milk Producers and California Cooperative Creamery (Cal-Gold). Currently DFA has 18,000 member dairies. 

The largest dairy producer is Dean Foods, which has 31 brands and sells about 36% of the Milk consumed in the United States.

Still, according to Dairy Farming Today, dairy farmers only receive about $.30 of every dollar spent on milk at retail and are being squeezed by rising costs in feed, land and transportation. If you have the interest, visiting a dairy operation makes a good field trip, especially for the family with kids, who may never have seen a farm. A good place to start learning about your local farmers, including your local dairy farmers (though you have to search a bit) is Local Harvest